Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Running Good

Things continue to go well for me in August after a rocky start to the month. I am up 32K at the moment which is almost exclusively from heads up:

This really has been the theme for the year, a big chunk of my earnings comes from heads up and short-handed play. I'm sure I've said this many times but it's worth repeating: heads up and short-handed is where all the money is at in limit hold-em. If you game select well and play well, win rates of 5 BB/100 or more are attainable. Contrast this to 6-handed play where win rates max out around 1.5 BB/100.

On the VPP front, I'm now at 699K which puts me about 50K ahead of pace. I haven't been playing a whole ton of hands lately. I've been relaxing a bit more and playing a lot of pool which has helped with my mental state. We're heading out to the US Open Tennis tournament in Flushing NY on September 3rd for about 8 days. I love tennis but have never seen a live match so I'm really looking forward to it. I should have some good pictures to post when we get back. I plan on playing a good deal of poker while I'm there but the gap will likely narrow. I'd like to stay at least a couple weeks ahead of pace just in case something unexpected comes up.

Here's what August looks like so far:

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Quick August Update

Things seem to have finally turned for me, it's been one of the worst runs of cards I've ever been through though. After my update at the beginning of August I went through a stretch where I lost an almost unfathomable 430 big bets in 3800 hands. I can't ever remember running that bad for that length of time in the 3 million+ hands I've played in my life. I maintained my composure through most of it although I took several breaks, some where I did cardio to work off stress. I also let out a scream of frustration at one point which scared the hell out of my dogs who were sleeping near me - it's been quite a while since I've actually screamed while playing poker. I wasn't playing my A game throughout but under the circumstances I think I held up pretty well. Fortunately things have gone a lot better as of late. It hasn't been my best month but being up anything feels pretty good after the last 6 weeks.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Respecting Your Opponents

I find that when I respect my opponents, I play my best poker. By respecting them, I try to understand how they are playing, what they’re thinking, and what strategies they’re using. I do this as an impartial, nonjudgmental observer. As a result, I’m able to specifically understand what all of my opponents are trying to accomplish at the poker table.

I find that when I disrespect my opponents, I play suboptimal poker against whomever I’m disrespecting. For example, I see someone open limp on the button and I lose respect for their game. I’ll give them a green dot, make an “open limps button” note, and mentally file them away as a “fish”. I pay little or no attention to them after this, they’re not worthy of it.

When I’m respecting the same opponent who open limps the button, I watch them carefully and realize that they’re only open-limping with suited connectors and JT, QJ type hands. I also notice that they bet every flop that is checked to them after open-limping. I’m able to leverage this information and capitalize by raising a lot of their flop bets particularly on ace and king high boards.

Another example of an opponent I might disrespect is someone who is checking behind lots of flops after being the pre-flop raiser. Again I might make a note, give them a green dot, label them a fish, and pay little attention to them. When respecting this opponent, I notice they are only checking behind hands they intend to see a showdown with. With this additional information, I can bet the turn for value with my made hands and check down my bad hands whenever they check behind.

Respecting opponents doesn’t only apply to bad players. It applies to every player regardless of playing ability. By respecting them: I’m keeping an open mind, refraining from labeling them, and trying to specifically understand their strategies by paying close attention to them. In doing so, I’m able to develop very specific counter-strategies that allow me to maximize my edge over them.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Keeping Perspective

August has started pretty much where July left off. I've had some incredibly bad stretches of luck where seemingly everything has gone wrong. Although I'm up slightly on the month, it's mostly due a short heads up session I played at 100-200. My last 70,000 hands or so have been close to break-even. It isn't my worst stretch in terms of money or big bets but it has been the most difficult to handle mentally due to the duration.

It's times like these I always try to look at the big picture. And even though the last 70,000 hands have felt like an eternity they look very normal when put back into context of the year. For my mental well being, this is what I'm trying to focus my mind on.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Goodbye July

I'm really looking forward to August and putting this month behind me. What a tough month. It was my worst month as a professional gambler as well as my worst in terms of poker income. I believe I've been filing for 5 or 6 years now so that's saying something. It started off much like last month as I was up 10K after only a couple days. From there I went on a 38K, 400 big bet downswing, the biggest monetary downswing I've experienced at poker. It also was one of the longest downswings I've been through lasting 25k hands. From there I was shot out of a cannon winning 750 big bets and 42K in less than 10k hands. For the next 10,000 hands or so, I experienced about ten 5K swings before eventually dropping 15K the last three days. When the smoke cleared, I ended the month up a whopping $736. The blow was somewhat softened in that I received 11K in bonus money from hitting both the 500K and 600K VPP milestones this month. As of writing this I sit at 640K VPPS, almost 2/3 of the way there, and several weeks ahead of pace.

Here is what the month looked like. In big bet terms it actually wasn't terrible as I ended up about 300 but unfortunately big bets don't count for anything.